cockatiel not taking weaning process well?

by chrissy
(staten island)

i have three cockatiel chicks that are the offspring of two lovely cockatiels i have had for a long time. they hatched around april 28th, 2009. i had to pull them at two weeks old and hand fed them from then on. two of three have been successfully weaned onto pellets and other foods. i am concerned about the third chick, however. he seems to want formula so i give it to him because he really seems hungry. he runs towards the cup i mix the formula in and begs for it. i give it twice a day. he screams when ever he sees me and comes to the door of the cage. when i let him out, he comes right to me. i sit with him all the time, offering toys, etc. he has little interest in these things and still screams off and on. he's quiet when i'm not in the same room as he. i see him eat out of the food dishes in the cage, so i know he eats the pellets the other birds eat. the amount of formula he will take varies, sometimes not very much, sometimes i have to stop because he is full to the max and i don't want him to spit up and aspirate formula. he plays with toys in the cage and seems totally normal otherwise. i looked inside his mouth i don't see the telltale signs of yeast. his crop empties normally and his droppings are normal. my vet is on vacation this week and next, and yes, we will be going asap for a first checkup when he returns. just wondering if the chick is lonely for me when i go to work? i started to go to work when he was a month and a half old. i stop by to check on them often as i work near my home. he is not alone during the day the birds are also cared for by my family, some of whom are home all day. any input would be greatly appreciated.

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Jul 23, 2009
by: Linda

Hi, and thanks for writing. Under normal circumstances, Cockies are weaned around 8 weeks of age. The weaning is a process of which you seem to be aware, so it can take a while for all babies to get on board. This baby may one of the last ones to hatch which makes it a little younger than the others.

All your babies need to be seen by the vet as soon as they return because bacterial infections are very common in nestlings, so this needs to be addressed for all of them. Vet will most likely charge you one office visit for all three, so except for the fecal floats, wont' be that much more expensive.

The other thing bothering me here is that you are still providing the handfeeding formula. My suggestion is to give less and less of the formula and try "soaking" the pellets in a little bit of water until they are softer, and see if this baby eats more of it. A member of your family needs to be in charge of removing this soaked food every two hours as it gets rancid and will make baby sick. Dish needs to be washed thoroughly before any other food is put back in. Use small amounts of the pellets and see how much this baby will consume in a sitting. Baby birds also take well to banana and baked sweet potato as good weaning foods as well as nice treats a few times a week. The other babies also need a variety of foods, so they get used to a wide array of foods. I'd leave off too many seeds as these can become an eating habit that is hard to break. You are doing right by offering pellets at weaning time, as the birds will do much better on a high quality pellet over an all seed diet.

So, to recap, please take all the babies into see the vet when they return to make sure all is well with them. Start putting less and less of the formula in cage, and this must be started immediately. Cockies are usually into the weaning process by 8 weeks, and they may still need a syringe or so a day until they can get enough food into the crop at each feeding. The formula should be fed warmed using a syringe. If you continue to just put it in feeding cups, birds will think it is a regular part of their diet. They should all be weaning quite nicely by now, even this little one. Vet can make sure all of them are healthy and not harboring infections, and then get into the weaning process with him for real. Right now, cut down or out the formula unless you are planning on feeding it warmed and in a syringe a time or two a day, just to help him get with the program. I'm NOT saying to starve bird, just saying putting formula in there all the time will keep complete weaning from happening at all. If baby seems to not be able to get enough food, a 10CC or ML(same thing) syringe of warmed formula twice a day and then once a day will get him onboard the weaning train.

Let us know how everything goes!

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